As the Boston College women’s lacrosse team established itself as a national power and lost in the national championship game three consecutive years from 2017-19, the prevailing question became whether or not the Eagles could win the big one.
Now that they’ve done it, the focus on the outside is whether they can become the first team since Maryland in 2014-15 to go back-to-back. BC coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein hears the buzz, and embraces the challenge, but she’s focused on this season and this season only.
“For everyone else, it’s like, ‘How are they going to defend it?’” Walker-Weinstein said. “We don’t really talk about that. ‘Defending the national championship’ aren’t even words I would ever use. It’s more about what needs to happen today to get ourselves better.”
The third-seeded Eagles (16-3) are set to open the 29-team Division 1 NCAA Tournament against Denver (17-2) or Vermont (14-4) on Sunday at 1 p.m. at BC’s Newton campus.
Senior attack Caitlynn Mossman acknowledged last year set the tone for how Boston College should always perform in the tournament. Knowing it’s possible to reach the ultimate goal goes a long way, but she too emphasized the importance of carving out a new chapter.
“We know what we’re capable of,” Mossman said, “It’s all about showing up in the moment.”
While the Eagles have some new faces, the majority of the team’s core was on last year’s championship squad.
Charlotte North leads the Eagles with 75 goals, 94 points, and 123 draw controls. Jenn Medjid has 61 goals, Belle Smith 45, and Mossman 34, and Sydney Scales, Hunter Roman, Melanie Welch, Courtney Taylor, and goalie Rachel Hall are catalysts on defense. Walker-Weinstein highlighted the play of “unsung heroes” Kayla Martello, Cassidy Weeks, and Welch.
Balance and depth are key in everything the Eagles do. BC cruised through its regular season but fell once to No. 13 Duke and twice to top-ranked North Carolina. Losing to the Tar Heels in the ACC Championship didn’t sit right with the Eagles.
Walker-Weinstein credited her players for doing a lot of “soul-searching” after that setback and understanding they’re not a finished product. The Eagles would love another crack at top-seeded UNC at the national title game May 29, but they know that’s a long way in the distance.
“We don’t want to look too far ahead, but it would be amazing to play them,” said Medjid, a senior attack. “If we get the opportunity, I think we’re going to be really prepared.”
Boston College defeated Denver, 9-5, in early March in a game canceled after three quarters due to extreme cold. BC did not face Vermont.
Walker-Weinstein praised her players for seeking improvement all season and said they can almost be too humble at times. She’s seen the kind of focus and hunger she wants and expects as the tournament nears. Sometimes teams can enter cruise control, but she’s witnessed none of that.
“Our kids are receiving that so well,” Walker-Weinstein said. “I like where we are. We’re humble, hungry, and very eager to improve. I can’t complain with that. I love it.”
The Eagles knew from the start that they would get other teams’ best, and they’ve prided themselves on giving it right back. They’ve understood all along that they’ll have to be better than they were last year to achieve the same result.
“That was in the past, that was last year, and this team knows that,” Medjid said. “We’re starting with a fresh slate, and we want to win a national championship. That’s something that this team specifically hasn’t done yet.”
Trevor Hass can be reached at email@example.com.